Less than half of Peterborough’s waste recycled with council set to miss government target

Less than half of Peterborough’s waste is recycled which means it could miss a key government environmental target.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 5:00 am

In 2018/19, Peterborough recycled or composted 38,639 tonnes of waste – 44 per cent of all its rubbish – according to the latest Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs figures.

This was, however, slightly better than last year when 43 per cent of the rubbish was recycled.

Over the same year England recycled 43 per cent of its rubbish.

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The Household Recycling Centre in Fengate

The Government wants half of the country’s household waste to be recycled by 2020, but the trade body for waste disposers, the Environmental Services Association, said England is likely to miss its recycling target.

Jacob Hayler, the group’s executive director, said greater awareness of pollution and environmental issues caused by waste “hasn’t yet translated” into higher recycling rates.

“Despite the gloomy picture, we know that political change is on the horizon and that a raft of new policies, promised in the manifestos of all parties, are likely to give recycling the shot in the arm that it needs.

“But there will clearly be some serious catching up to do once they are implemented if we are to keep up with our European neighbours, and even the devolved administrations in Great Britain, over the next decade.”

Incinerator plants burned 54 per cent of the rubbish produced in Peterborough. The vast majority was sent to specialist power plants to generate heat and electricity.

The incineration rate in Peterborough stayed the same since the year before.

Peterborough sent 1,645 tonnes of waste to landfills, two per cent of the total.

The Government aims to cut the amount of rubbish going to landfill sites to 10 per cent by 2035.

Last year, a cross party report in the House of Lords called on the Government to take oversight of the industry and introduce an incineration tax.

A spokesperson for Peterborough City Council said: “We are fully committed to increasing the amount of waste recycled in Peterborough and are confident of achieving this through a number of initiatives.

“Our new household recycling centre opened in February 2019 and is already improving our recycling performance - 75 per cent of waste taken there is recycled, compared to 65 per cent at the previous site.

“We have recently launched a Christmas recycling campaign which will continue into the new year and features educational talks to communities, schools and groups ​as well as a comprehensive social media campaign.

“We are also working with partner councils across Cambridgeshire to develop a co-ordinated response to the Government’s developing resources and waste strategy. This is aimed at simplifying the mix of materials in packaging and aligning collections across the country for types of materials.

“The Energy Recovery Facility in Peterborough has been a significant contributor to the excellent performance achieved in diverting waste away from landfill and making positive use of the resources collected from Peterborough residents - in 2018/19 the amount of waste taken to landfill was 1.88 per cent compared to 52.42 per cent in 2014/15.

“We need the public’s help in order to meet recycling targets and would urge anyone who doesn’t already recycle waste to do so. Helpful advice can be found at http://www.peterborough.gov.uk/whichbin.”

Shlomo Dowen, of United Kingdom Without Incineration Network, said much of the country’s incinerated waste could be recycled.

He added: “It is simply unacceptable that so much of our valuable resources end up being lost through incineration.

“The Government needs to support councils to renegotiate or cancel waste contracts that prioritise incineration over recycling. An incineration tax should be introduced to help fund recycling activities and to ensure that we make the best use of our discarded materials.”

Cllr David Renard, the Local Government Association’s environment spokesman, said: “Councils want to increase recycling rates and have worked extremely hard to maintain them.

“The fact that recycled food waste has increased, waste sent to landfill has fallen and residual waste has decreased, reflects ongoing efforts by councils and is good news for the environment and consumers.

“The slight fall in the official recycling rates last year reflects the urgent need for manufacturers to stop putting non-recyclable items in the system, pay the full cost of recycling packaging and fund a producer responsibility scheme.”